Al Purdy : the curable romantic

Drodge, Susan,1968- (1991) Al Purdy : the curable romantic. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The poetry of Al Purdy is simultaneously informed by the contrary perspectives of realism and romanticism. This duality of perspective is necessary in order to satisfy both his involvement with direct, modern experience and his intuition of profound, continuous existence. Realism and romanticism provide the divergent means by which he can support seemingly contradictory possibilities, such as transience and permanence, inconsequence and significance, failure and redemption. The realistic poetic persona intellectually challenges those traditional, social ideals which precipitate a sense of exclusion, failure, and futility. Through the deflation of ideals, he repudiates the conventional assumption of Canadian limitation and suggests failure is the product of a defeatist mentality, rather than an inescapable, modern reality. His characteristic self-deprecation and ironic stance become the subversive means by which he contests societal ideals and the notion of failure as that which falls short of those standards. His intellectual transcendence of failure does not, however, satisfy his emotional and spiritual faculties. His romantic impulse, by contrast, yields the means of emotionally transforming the harshness of realistic experience. He hypothesizes that there is a transcendental continuum of existence which guarantees eternal meaning and significance, substantially eclipsing past and present failures. For Purdy, failure can be most effectively transformed through a synthesis of realism and romanticism which advances, as an absolute, a commitment to the dignity of life itself. However, in his urgency to redeem humankind from dismal, modern reality, he neglects certain social and political considerations, particularly in those poems which concern Canada's native peoples and their historical displacement. While the conventional romantic persona and style virtually disappear as Purdy matures as a poet, romanticism itself never ceases to be an integral influence in his poetic cosmos. Purdy's romanticism evolves primarily in its structural expression, rather than in its idealistic intensity and manifestation. The romantic ideals of the mature poet are those which can be consummated within daily experience and encourage human fraternity, rather than precipitating a sense of inadequacy and failure. In the poetry of Al Purdy, realistic awareness and romantic reflection can yield a lavish image of human existence.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7967
Item ID: 7967
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 97-99.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1991
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Purdy, Al, 1918---Criticism and interpretation

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